Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Event Review: PROGRESS Chapter 39: The Graps of Wrath - TK Cooper v Travis Banks v Sebastian v Pete Dunne v Trent Seven v Matt Riddle v Jimmy Havoc

On 27th November, PROGRESS Wrestling looked to crown a new World Champion at the Electric Ballroom in London, following Mark Haskins having to vacate the belt through injury. A series of matches were held throughout the show with the winner from each match advancing to a seven person elimination contest in the show's main event, including The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) getting a rematch for British Strong Style (Pete Dunne & Trent Seven)'s Tag Team Championship. With Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay, Mark Andrews, Matt Riddle and Nixon Newell in action, would PROGRESS crown a new champ in style? 

Pete Dunne became the tenth World Champion by last eliminating Jimmy Havoc in a Seven Way match that was a rollercoaster of emotion and also included Trent Seven, Matt Riddle, Travis Banks, Sebastian (who forced Pastor William Eaver's to give him his place) and TK Cooper. If you were unsure if Chris Roberts took a bump in this match, you probably haven't watched a whole lot of PROGRESS recently! The reaction to Tyler Bate making his return was loud, especially considering it was towards the end of a long afternoon of the Graps, with it seeming like Bate was here to put a stop to the already his already eliminated former Moustache Mountain partner Seven. This all after two dramatic near-falls for both Havoc and Dunne following multiple Acid Rainmakers and a piledriver and running kick, which I can only imagine Bate was having a piss during. It was all however just a Tyler Bate and Switch, as the 19 year old took Havoc out with a Gotch Style Piledriver and allowed Dunne to hit his DT3 pumphandle for the victory. I may have called the turn from the positioning, but that doesn't mean I was any less shocked by the turn of events. The three together at the top of the promotion has a lot of potential, not just offering some great match ups, but a whole array of stories as well.

The rest of the contest was just as rammed with happenings, with Marty Scurll returning to batter Havoc during the entrances, leaving Riddle as the bouts only babyface and sending the crowd into some kind of Spandau Ballet based euphoria. From here the bout was constantly shifting from one style to another, pulling through a number of story threads in the process. There were shit loads of flips, with Cooper pulling out a ridiculous corkscrew to the outside, whilst Sebastian played the spoiler role and just being the general nuisance that he is. Banks and Seven put together some great stuff together, concluding with a mid-rope piledriver taking out Kiwi Buzzsaw, whilst if Riddle battling against British Strong Style en route to elimination didn't have your mouth watering with the possibilities of future singles matches then the graps life just isn't for you. The bouts main story of Havoc fighting adversity worked as the glue, as after his return to save us all from Sebastian, he ended up alone with the Tag Team Champions for the thrilling final stretch, with the crowd rebounding for the underdog story.

Match in a Sentence - An epic rollercoaster of emotions and styles.

British Strong Style (Pete Dunne & Trent Seven) had earned their spot in the World Championship contest, by retaining their Tag Team Championship in a rematch with The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) in the longest of the five qualifying matches. This was a nice advancement of their September bout, with plenty of fire from the Davis & Lynch as they looked to take back the tag shields. The two teams brawled with intensity, before Dunne & Seven began to slow the match down and control inside the ring. The exchange built up nicely from here, with a strong feeling of momentum and escalation from the hot tag as a series of big strikes and suplexes that the two teams are known for, as well as some highspots like Lynch hitting Seven with a spear off the apron and a missed Lynch corkscrew splash. The highlight for me was a ridiculous pop-up powerbomb and german suplex string that full of some glorious no selling! 

Just like the original contest, the finish was full of shenanigans as after London Riots came close off a District Line powerbomb, the Riots cricket bat was introduced with Seven accidentally clobbering Dunne with it as the momentum swung back and forth like a pendulum on it's first generic party drug. The story twisted more than Dorothy's favourite board game, with Dunne recovering to remove Davis' protective mask and bite his nose, like the oral obsessed shitehawk he is and BSS getting the win with their piledriver and running kick combination. I mentioned in my review of their first clash, that I felt there was more avenues for these two teams to explore in the ring with each other, as Dunne and Seven continue to find themselves as a tandem, and following their second outing, I actually find myself still feeling the same. We've seen them put on two different matches, both good hard-hitting battles, with antics based finishes, but I've still got the feeling that there's a new level for these guys to reach, the idea that they could create something just that little bit better, if provided with the right environment. Hopefully, we still get to see that in PROGRESS, although Dunne winning the World title obviously casts doubt on that. 

Match in a Sentence - Good hard-hitting tag team action with antics.

Jimmy Havoc's win opposite Marty Scurll was perhaps most notable for an unexpected finish that saw Havoc channel Eddie Guerrero, being able to convince the referee that Scurll had clobbered him with his umbrella. I think, you'll either have loved this finish or loathed it, but I found it a lot of fun, giving Havoc an edge over Scurll in their continuing feud, whilst also keeping the focus on the main prize in the company. There was an undeniable logic behind it and that's good enough for me, especially with an eye on a bigger match down the line. At the other end of the bout their was an homage to Goldberg and Brock Lesnar's Survivor Series main event, with Scurll kicking out of an Acid Rainmaker, following a pair of spears, that got a big reaction. The main body of the contest had all the things that I'd want from these two without giving a whole lot away either. The pair showing their animosity well, whilst running through a number of their signature sequences.

Match in a Sentence - An entertaining stepping stone to develop their feud with some nice logic.

The blackmailing plot between Sebastian and Pastor William Eaver continued as the former was at ringside for and directly involved in the finish of Eaver's victory over Joe Coffey. Whilst I'm yet to be fully convinced of the story itself, Eaver and Coffey put together good contest. The similarities between the styles of the two performers was played up well, with some humorous taunting to kick things off, before the strongest portion of the bout saw the two exchanging strikes before both nailing their signature lariats. Coffey's double jump crossbody situation is still one of my favourite moves in wrestling and if there's ever a time I don't pop for it then I'll probably just give up on all things. There was some strong attention to detail in the final third of the clash, with it being made clear that Coffey had just that little edge of Eaver, kicking out of a Fisherman's Suplex and a Crucifix Powerbomb and looking en route to picking up the victory. The fact that it took a distraction from Sebastian and a big handful of tights creates a nice issue between Coffey and Eaver, which will only produce a more hard hitting future rematch, whilst the underhand victory also produces the most interesting plot shift since Sebastian and the Pastor started their feud in July. 

Match in a Sentence - A sturdy contest, with a very good strike sequence and some savvy booking at it's conclusion. 

The show kicked off with a big victory for The South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks) (accompanied by Dahlia Black) over former Tag Team Champions FSU (Eddie Dennis & Mark Andrews). The match started off hot with Black attempting to interfere and ending up getting thrown to the outside by Dennis, before FSU got a big ol' shine in. The matches narrative began to unfold rather quickly as The SPPT took a beating from FSU, with the protagonists managing to keep the upperhand, whilst the action remained crisp and had a cracking pace to it. The story continued to build when even Banks and Cooper's underhanded tactics and double teams couldn't stop the FSU party, with Dennis kicking out of double superkicks. After a pacy back and forth strike sequence and some dives to the outside from FSU, the contest came to a satisfying conclusion, when Black would re-insert herself into the contest, delivering a low blow to Dennis that allowed Banks and Cooper to hit their double team Whiplash Neckbreaker for the victory. Though relatively short, the brevity of the match probably helped to tell the story that played out here, that easily could have gotten lost had their been more time to fill. 

Match in a Sentence - Solid tag bout, with some well paced action and interesting narrative. 

The non-World title qualifier on the card was a First Round match in Natural Progression Series IV that saw Nixon Newell advance past the debuting Katey Harvey in a clash that recovered well after struggling to find it's feet in the first few exchanges. The crowd latched onto Harvey's outfit only having a single sleeve and ran with it, whilst the women found their stride in the ring, pummeling each other with hard hits, headbutts and slaps. This was my first time seeing Harvey and I was particularly impressed with her selling during later half of the contest, but I would have also liked to have seen her make a little more of the crowd's jeers. Newell would have to be considered a strong contender for the tournament after what was a fairly convincing victory following a Shining Wizard (the shiniest in the land, I've heard). 

Match in a Sentence - A powerful first time clash and debut, once it found it's feet.

Matt Riddle's victory over Will Ospreay was a silly, silly match, that crammed a shit tonne of action into just over 8 minutes. The World Wrestling Network star may have been making his PROGRESS debut, but the Electric Ballroom was already well-versed in the former UFC fighters work, creating a great atmosphere, that was only intensified by Riddle blindsiding The Aerial Assassin during the ring announcements. The contest played out as a wonderful battle between an MMA fighter and a pro wrestling high-flyer, with Riddle dominating with huge strikes and intense suplexes and slams, before Ospreay took the air including a moonsault off the steps near the DJ booth. The wrestling was fluid and flips were spectacular, whilst the strikes were hard and the two selling the pain whilst asking for more punishment added an extra dimension to proceedings. The finish was a little jarring because of quickly it came, but suited the style and story as Riddle hammered down with elbow strikes before locking in the Bromission (Twister) for the win. I would've loved to have seen these guys go longer, as there was definitely more expedition to be done here, but with Riddle also having to compete in the main event, it's understandable why this one didn't go long.

Match in a Sentence - A fantastic contrast of styles, that left me wanting more.


ATPW Scale Rating - 6.47/10 

This is a difficult show to sum up, because it was completely unique in it's set-up, after the necessity to crown a new Champion as quickly as possible. The qualifier gave the first half an overall feel and focus, however there's also an argument to be made that each match would have been better served had the winner not have to compete again later in the evening or had those bout had the luxury of being spread across the event. There wasn't anything close to a bad match, but each match had the potential to hit the next level, even the marvelous Will Ospreay and Matt Riddle match. That being said as an overall package, the show was arguably greater than the sum of it's (already considerably strong) individual parts, with the main event offering a real one-of-a-kind feel. 

The conclusion of the show, with Pete Dunne on top, felt like a real shift in the promotion, with Trent Seven and Tyler Bate by his side offering a different look at the dominant stable cliché. There is potential here to create something magnificent with those three at the helm & a number of different avenues and feuds for the boys to have in the coming months.

Show in a Sentence - A momentous evening with a very different feel, but still plenty of very good to great graps.

Match of the Night - Matt Riddle v Will Ospreay

Review - James Marston (@IAmNotAlanDale) 
Editor - Jozef Raczka (@NotJozefRaczka)
Photo Credit - PROGRESS Wrestling

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